Teens hospitalized after hit and run on LI

May 20, 2010 3:23:31 PM PDT
Four high school classmates are in the hospital Thursday morning after a hit-and-run accident on Long Island. The crash happened Wednesday in Garden City. And the driver is in custody, thanks to a Good Samaritan.

It was a scene of chaos when the hit-and-run driver mowed over a group of 16-year-old girls outside Roosevelt Field shopping mall. The teens' parents are thankful a witness took matters into his own hands, chasing after the driver.

"To leave the scene of the accident and to leave those four girls just lying there, I'm just holding back the tears a little bit," dad Anthony Centamore said.

Centamore is the father of Stephanie, one of the four girls hit and injured while preparing to cross Old Country Road.

Police say 26-year-old Elias Garcia, of Hempstead, jumped a curb and hit the girls. Two were knocked down, and the other two landed on the hood of his car. Garcia then just drove off, crossing several lanes traffic before the two fell off the hood. The girls were left lying in the middle of the street, bleeding with broken bones.

Garcia would have gotten away, if not for an eyewitness who almost couldn't believe what had just happened.

"He must have been going about 90 miles an hour," the man said. "I was right behind him, flashing my lights. I was able to get his plate number, and then I pulled up right on the side of his car. He was stopped at a red light, and I said, 'Pull over. We've got your plates. The cops are coming.'"

With his adrenaline pumping, the Good Samaritan then pulled Garcia out of his car and took his keys away.

Garcia is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, all misdemeanors. He's also charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

The girls are all classmates at Herricks High School. One of them is in critical condition with a head injury.